Headset review: Turtle Beach Battle Buds

We all know Turtle Beach as one of the leading purveyors of gaming headsets, right?

I know that when I see the brand, I can expect a headset of good quality for a reasonable price. 

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how best to cover my gaming audio requirements across platforms.  Namely, can I get the same level of quality when playing on the Switch, on the go, as I can with my headset on Xbox One/Playstation 4.

Straight away, the issue is of course, portability.  Decent headsets don’t generally fit in your pocket, do they?  So of course, I’ve been looking at earbud style headsets.

Can gaming ear-buds deliver a decent experience?  After a bit of looking around, I found I had 2 clear options.  Either a pair of Hyper-X earbuds or the Turtle Beach “Battle Buds”.

With a name as cool as that, and knowing that they’re from Turtle Beach, how on earth could I not try them?  With the tagline “built for battle royale”, I was basically sold from the get-go.

 

Look

How do you make an earbud look like something more than just an earbud? Honestly, I’m not sure. I guess you remove the cables and change the shape of the in-ear elements for comfort.

What Turtle Beach have done is fit a 10mm driver in each ear and managed to hide it within the signature triangular logo of theirs.

Beyond that you have the in-ear rubber and there are added wings to help them sit and stay in your ear.

I think what stands out the most visually is that of a microphone coming out of an earbud. It’s a little odd and not something you see every day. Honestly, it looks bit weird and a bit chunky. But looks aren’t everything and they’re hardly detrimental to comfort or sound.

Take the detachable microphone out and they just look like slightly bulky earbuds. We’re not here for a fashion show, but they look just fine. Not quite so subtle, smooth and clean as say the latest from Apple, but the importance here lies within, not externally.

Turtle Beach have manage to brand them, fit their speakers in, and allow for additional comfort and stability. That works for me.

They don’t stand out so much that you feel like a numpty, and that’s plenty good enough.

 

Audio

Obviously the main draw here, and the purpose of a headset. The delivery of solid audio is a requirement.

I think it’s important to acknowledge the “built for battle royale” tag here. Because I feel that’s where they shine the best.

You’re getting some lovely deep bass from things like grenades and explosions going on all-around you. You’re picking up the subtle footsteps and movement of people nearby, and picking up these things with really solid directional awareness.

Gun shots in the distance, the firing of your own weapons. There’s a real focus here on the ends of the spectrum, in terms of higher and lower sounds and providing spacial awareness.

Turtle beach have really delivered in this respect. I’ve played PUBG, Fortnite, Blackout (Black Ops 4) and Firestorm (Battlefield V) to really get a feel for them in the context of a battle royale. At least 3 rounds per game, and in some cases, several more. It’s been a blast.

Playing Fortnite on Switch was as good an audio experience as playing it on the Xbox. I’ve been able to get the same level of immersion regardless of where I am. These were definitely built for battle royale.

How do they fair-up against games with a little more audio-scope? That’s a different story.

The effort here is very clearly on the higher and lower registers, and I’ve found that some of the elements, and the nuance is lacking. Playing Destiny 2, I found that some of my favourite parts of the soundtrack fell a bit flat, or were hard to grasp. Playing Fifa on Switch was fine, but again, it was hard to get a focused sound. Referee whistles and commentary were fine, but I struggled with the sounds on-pitch.

Truth be told, I bought these for £15 and found that I got a stellar experience in battle royale games, and, when compared to my HyperX headset a sub-optimal experience elsewhere. Turtle Beach haven’t tried to sell it as a high-end headset, though, so I can’t complain.

One thing worth mentioning is that these little bad boys can get really loud. I had to turn the audio down on both the consoles and on the physical switch built into the cable! Great, I guess? Not what I needed right there and then, but it’s nice to know that I can crank it up should I need to.

Listening to music with them was interesting, too. A nice stereo experience, but the drums and bass were often taking precedence over things like rhythm guitars and synths.

I bought these to get some reasonable earbuds to travel with and use with my Switch. Realistically, they won’t replace my HyperX Cloud Stinger when I’m at home, but they’re perfect for on-the-go and when I don’t want to have a cumbersome over-head pair on.

They sound good, and better than something you’d get for a tenner in PC World. That’s all I need to be honest.

 

Microphone

This was my biggest concern. Not minutes after I had placed the order, had I read numerous accounts of the microphone being all but useless on Xbox Live party chat……..as in the one chat facility I use frequently….

This little plug-in and pull out mic that just sits in the earpiece is actually a little wonder!

I made sure my mic monitoring was relatively low on Xbox, and found that I’ve never had an issue with echo or any of the listed issues. Because of the size of the mic, it’s never intrusive.

Turtle Beach have delivered a mini marvel here. It’s clear and clean, and I’ve had no complaints about people not hearing me.

This took me by surprise in a big way. I’d anticipated real issues and perhaps having to send the headset back. Instead, I’ve had no issues at all.

Great work here. Perfect for co-ordinating ill-fated assaults on an enemy squad after dropping in Pochinki!

Turtle Beach
 

Build

Let’s be serious here shall we. These are a pair of earbud on wire. There’s no expectation of “sturdiness” here and the microphone looks flimsy as hell.

Well, yeah. But actually the build quality here is pretty high.

The cable itself isn’t too thin, so it holds shape and isn’t easily bent. With a rubbery texture that just feels more expensive than your cheap and cheerful earbuds.

With multiple rubber in-ear elements to choose from, a flexible but robust microphone and a selection or “wings”, you’re actually offered quite a lot in terms of options and accessibility.

Sure, rubber and wires are pretty standard, but everything here feels a little more than just what was cheapest to manufacture.

Turtle Beach obviously spent a few quid in R&D to make sure these little buds will actually last a while, despite the low cost, and I appreciate that.

 

Comfort

After the microphone concerns, comfort was high-up in my list of potential woes.

Unless the earbuds are the right size (more specifically the rubber bits), they can actually get uncomfortable quite quickly.

Luckily, you have a selection of 3 sizes for the rubber in-ear bits, and the wings come in various sizes too. A little mix-and-match and you’re good to go.

Looking at the size of them, and considering the microphone, too. You’d be forgiven for thinking that they might be quite heavy and potentially uncomfortable.

Thankfully, I can confirm that this hasn’t been the case. I’ve popped them in and out for 20 minute sessions, and I’ve had them in for a couple of hours. Never have they felt uncomfortable or painful.

 

Rating

If it’s isn’t already obvious, I’m a pretty big fan of these Battle Buds.

Tiny powerhouses that help give me a better audio experience on the go, and give me consistency no matter what platform I’m on.

The “built for battle royale” tag is 100% legitimate, and actually testing these re-ignited my love for the genre. To the point where I haven’t played much else for the past week, during and after testing them out.

They are absolutely not a premium audio experience like you’d expect with some of the bigger units made by Turtle Beach. Where the old adage goes “you get what you pay for”, I think this is an exception to the rule.

For less than £20 on Amazon, you can get decent audio for your gaming on the go. They’re comfortable, well-built and portable.

Find me a headset at the same price, with a detachable mic that delivers this experience. You’ll struggle.

These are always on me now, because they’re portable and even came with a little bag to keep them in. Sure, they’re not great for music, but I could take a call and listen to my songs with them if I wanted to, without needing a case to keep them in.

Great work Turtle Beach!

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